HALIFAX’S Grand Final-winning coach Matt Calland has left the club today by “mutual consent”.
The shock announcement, only five days after Calland saw his side beaten 20-16 by Leigh in a dramatic Northern Rail Cup final, comes less than 48 hours before the club host York in a Co-operative Championship clash.
No reason has been given for the departure of the former Bradford Bulls player, with a joint statement saying only: “Matt’s period as coach has been one of the most successful in the club’s history.
“The directors and staff wish to place on record their sincere appreciation of his contribution to the club.
“We look forward to welcoming him back to the Shay in the future.”
Assistant coach Damian Ball will take charge for Sunday’s clash with the Knights.
Calland, who originally arrived midway through 2006 as assistant to incoming coach Martin Hall, has been in sole charge since the beginning of 2008, making him the club’s longest-serving boss since 1980s legend Chris Anderson.
Calland was also the first coach since Anderson to deliver a significant trophy, winning the 2010 Championship Grand Final against Featherstone last September.
He also guided Fax to the 2009 decider against Barrow, which they lost, and last week’s showpiece at Bloomfield Road, making them by far the most successful Championship club over the last three years.
But his Shay stay has not always been plain sailing.
Calland hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons after an assault in a Halifax nightclub three years ago and was formally suspended last May in the wake of the Ostick-gate scandal, which saw Fax thrown out of the Challenge Cup.
He was eventually re-instated after three days when Hall, his long-time friend and mentor, took the blame for fielding the ineligible forward in a fourth-round tie at Swinton and resigned his position as director of football.
Calland also appeared to be on the brink of being sacked this spring, with a disastrous run of form - which saw the Champions rooted to the foot of the league ladder - only being arrested when the former Great Britain coach Brian Noble was hired as a ‘football consultant’, which included a brief to review the club’s coaching set up.
Ominously for Calland - whose current contract runs out in November - there was no public indication he would be offered a new deal for 2012 and beyond, and that, as much as anything else, may be the most telling factor behind today’s announcement.
Reaction in Saturday’s Courier Sport